Supervisor hopefuls reflect on campaigns

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

As a campaign season that began more than a year ago draws to a close for candidates in the race for Kern County 1st District Supervisor, the remaining two reflected on how things went, and where they might go from here.

The first applicants filed forms of intent for candidacy last fall. When voters took to the polls last June, the race had attracted a field of eight contenders representing Ridgecrest, Kern River Valley, Bakersfield and the Delano region of the sprawling 1st District.

The primary election whittled that field down to two — retired Navy Capt. Mick Gleason of Ridgecrest, garnering 6,929 votes for 30.53 percent of ballots cast, and former supervisor and state legislator Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield, winning 3,786 votes and 16.68 percent of ballots cast.

With other supervisor seats cinched in the primary, and wide margins predicting a favorable outcome for incumbents in the higher offices, much of the county attention has been focused on the 1st District race. And that attention has not been without controversy as the media has documented a heated debate among elected officials and citizens alike who have contemplated the merits of an experienced politician with a controversial history and a military-private sector leader who is largely unproven in the political arena.

Gleason brings with him endorsements from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, state Sen. Jean Fuller and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove as well as significant support from small business leaders in the district. Ashburn’s support includes McCarthy’s predecessor, Bill Thomas, and current 1st District Supervisor Jon McQuiston. Ashburn has also been endorsed by many of the county’s media outlets.

As the field has narrowed and Election Day draws near, informal polls in the Bakersfield Californian and the Kern River Valley show Gleason leading in the former and Ashburn leading in the latter.

When the News Review reached out to each candidate earlier this week, both indicated that their work was done and the issue was now in the hands of the voters.

“I want to thank the voters for their interest in the campaign,” said Ashburn. “In each community people have been very friendly, interested, warm and responsive. It has been wonderful talking with people as I have walked house to house and shaken so many hands at the gatherings and events that have taken place.

“No matter the outcome on Election Day, I appreciate the opportunity to be with the wonderful people of the Indian Wells Valley and to offer my service as their next supervisor.”

He said he has met with many voters, listening to their opinions and concerns. “I am confident that my message of experience, knowledge and dedication to the people of our area is well known with the voters.

“My hope is that everyone will vote. My prediction is that we still have a better, more responsive, government if people do vote … The final decision is with the people, and I encourage all voters to cast their vote.”

Gleason said that he believes his campaign is going well, and that “we are right about where we need to be.” He said that now that absentee ballots are being filed, the feedback he is getting from voters is very positive.

“My final thought on the campaign is that, for the most part, my wife Robynn and I have truly enjoyed this experience. The people of the Indian Wells Valley have been thoughtful, considerate and warm hearted. I’m glad to call Ridgecrest my home, and I’m eager to represent you.

“And my only prediction about the outcome is that I will spend the whole next day in bed!”

Anyone seeking information on ballots or polling places can visit www.elections.co.kern.ca.us. After the polls close next Tuesday at 8 p.m., that page will also begin publishing early returns.

Story First Published: 2012-10-31